Wage initiative could affect sports clubs

SC Bern's Ryan Gardner (centre) could be affected by the 1:12 wage initiative Keystone

The 1:12 initiative on executive pay could have consequences for a wider group of people than just top managers in large corporations.

This content was published on November 6, 2013 - 15:53 and agencies

Researchers from the KOF Swiss Economic Institute at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) say the potential changes to salary hierarchies within companies could have an impact on athletes, such as high-profile footballers or ice hockey players.

An analysis of wage data from the Federal Statistics Office showed that 40-50 people working in sports clubs and associations in Switzerland would be affected.

“Naturally there are also large wage differences within sports clubs. It’s clear that these sportsmen are also affected by the initiative,” Michael Siegenthaler, KOF labour market expert who led the study told

With annual earnings ranging from CHF600,000-1,000,000 ($660,000-1,100,000), footballers such as Vero Salatic from Grasshoppers Zurich or SC Bern ice hockey player Ryan Gardner are some of the best-paid athletes in the country. Comparatively less well-off employees who work in club shops, for example, are also part of the club.

The 1:12 initiative, proposed by the youth section of the centre-left Social Democrats, stipulates that the salary of a company’s highest paid employee cannot be more than 12 times that of its lowest paid employee.

If the initiative is adopted by voters on November 24, it could mean wage cuts for star players.

‘Legal trick’

“This would be a disaster for the sport. We would lose a lot of quality,” Grasshoppers president André Dosé told Swiss public television, SRF. “The players would move abroad even earlier and the Swiss sports market would take a huge step backwards.”

According to the research, roughly one in 70 of those working in sports falls into the category of high earners. But it’s not just sportsmen and women: the initiative would also have an effect on important figures in sports associations, such as Sepp Blatter, president of world football’s governing body FIFA.

Siegenthaler said clubs may have to look for a work-around, if the vote succeeds. “There might be the possibility to go around this rule of 1:12 by some legal trick, by outsourcing or by giving the money, not in the form of wages, but in dividends.”

Aside from high-level executives and sports people, the research also suggested that well-paid doctors in hospitals could find their salaries coming under scrutiny if the public votes for the initiative.

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